The Society was founded in 1884; originally it was aimed at businessmen and concentrated on commercial and political geography. It contributed to the appointment of the first geography lecturer at Owens College in 1891, and the first professor of geography at Manchester University in 1930.

It has organised a lecture series throughout its history.

The aims of the Society are to encourage and publish geographical research on or relevant to the north west of England and to further the pursuit of geographical knowledge.

The Society’s Journal began publication in 1885; the first issue included an article by H M Stanley. The journal was relaunched as The Manchester Geographer in 1980 and was renamed as The North West Geographer in 1997. It became the free online journal North West Geography in 2001.

The Society also publishes Exploring Greater Manchester (a collection of fieldwork guides) and Manchester Geographies (a collection of essays about the Manchester area); both are available free online.

The Society’s library, map and atlas collections are on permanent loan to the John Rylands University of Manchester Library; the archives (to 2010) have been deposited there.

The Society has long been a Registered Charity; it became a Charitable Trust in 2010 (number 1134626). The Society is governed by a group of at least seven Trustees (there are currently ten) most of whom have or had links with the three geography departments in Manchester and Salford.

The Society formerly owned a building in Manchester which it sold in the 1970s; the Society now obtains most of its income from the proceeds of that sale, plus donations from the public at the lecture series. The Society’s finances are professionally managed.

Just over half the Society’s expenditure goes to the research fund, which provides research grants to applicants from across the North West and support for postgraduate students, a process that leads to articles for North West Geography. About a quarter of the expenditure is spent on the lecture series.

Further reading

(listed in chronological order)


Acting Chairman:
Paul Hindle

Cathy Delaney

Martin Dodge

Lecture Secretary:
Rod Allman

Cathy Delaney

Other Trustees:
Kathryn Adamson, Rosie Anthony, Ian Douglas, Neil Entwistle, Narinder Mann, Steve Millington, Donna Sherman and Wilf Theakstone.

What we do


  1. To encourage geographical research on or relevant to the north west of England,
  2. To publish geographical research on or relevant to the north west of England,
  3. To further the pursuit of geographical knowledge

Lunchtime Lecture Series

The Society normally presents 18 free lectures open to the public on a variety of geographical topics in the autumn and spring.

The lectures are held on Tuesdays at 1-30 pm in Cross Street Chapel, Manchester.

Since 2010 the Society has spent over £27,000 in providing these talks.

Research Fund

This fund is intended to help University lecturers in the north west with small projects which might have difficulty getting funds elsewhere. There is no restriction on the uses to which the funds may be put. Applicants must undertake to submit an article to North West Geography within one year. Applications should reach the Society’s office by the first Tuesday in February.

The Society’s Academic Committee decides which bids to support, solely on grounds of excellence; decisions will usually be notified during March each year.

Since 2010 the Society has distributed Research Grants totalling over £56,000.

Library, Atlases and Maps

The Society’s Library was amassed between 1884 and 1970; the book collection concentrates on nineteenth and early twentieth century exploration, travel and geography in Africa and Asia, with significant collections on America, Europe, Oceania, the Polar regions, and of course Britain, especially north-west England.

There is also a valuable atlas collection dating from 1701.

The Society also amassed over 2,000 maps, spanning the 18th to 20th centuries. Many of the maps document the geography and exploration of Africa with significant representation of other continents, islands, the oceans and world maps.

The collection includes official government mapping, admiralty charts, manuscript maps, and 19th and 20th century ephemera, such as street plans and travel maps.

The books, atlases and maps are on permanent loan to the University of Manchester Library (Special Collections) and are kept at the Main Library

The books and maps are on permanent loan to the University of Manchester Library (Special Collections) and are kept at the Main Library; the atlases are at Deansgate.

Here are some useful links:


The Society awards prizes for the two best finals performances in each Manchester geography undergraduate degree course each year.

The Society also offers bursaries for postgraduate students to attend conferences.

Since 2010 the Society has awarded over £5000 to undergraduates and over £8000 to postgraduates.


The Society publishes North West Geography, an online Journal, with two issues per year.

It also publishes an online series of excursion guides Exploring Greater Manchester.

In 2017 it published Manchester Geographies to mark Paul Hindle’s 30 years as Secretary to the Society.

The Society’s editor, who should be contacted by potential contributors to the publications, is Cathy Delaney c.delaney@mmu.ac.uk